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"I might wanna fly like a paper plane but in the end, I'd still choose falling for you..."

Kabanata 17

"Anong ginawa mo kay Ejercito? Bakot ganyan 'yan?" Siniko ako ni Cecille pagkatapos lumingon sa likuran ko.

I shrugged and rolled my eyes.

"Ewan ko d'yan sa lalaking 'yan, nagdadrama kasi." I hissed.

Kumunot ang noo ni Cess, muling sumulyap sa likuran muli bago kumapit sa akin.

"Saya-saya n'yan kanina, huh? Bakit nakasimangot na ngayon?" She whispered.

"I don't know, he's moody." I murmured. "Okay naman kanina, but then, my suitor came and gave me flowers, nagulat nalang ako 'nung s'ya ang kumuha 'nung bulaklak mula sa manliligaw ko at ayan s'ya ang nagbubuhat. Pagkatapos, sinisimangutan na ako." I whispered back.

"Ay baka, gusto n'ya ang manliligaw mo?" She whispered.

My eyes widen, natigilan ako at napakurap.

"He's gay?!" I exclaimed softly.

Tumawa naman si Cess bago umiling at pinalo ako.

"I was just kidding!" She chuckled. "Si Ejercito pa ba ang bakla? E, halos sambahin na 'yan ng mga babae rito, even the seniors likes him! Palaging may pa-banner kapag basketball or soccer!" She murmured.

Nilingon ko si Ejercito na seryoso lang at bitbit ang pumpon ng bulaklak. Nasa balikat rin n'ya ang bag ko dahil sa pagpupumilit n'yang s'ya na ang magdadala nito.

"Sabagay," I shrugged.

"Uhm, Lena?" Sabay kaming natigilan ni Cess nang makita si Ethan Castuares sa tapat. I stoof straight, bahagyang lumayo sa akin ang nangingiting si Cess habanh nang-aasar.

"Yes?" I smiled.

I saw Ethan blushed a bit and scratch the back of his head.

"Uh, just wanna ask if you're free tonight? I just want to invite you for dinner?" He murmured, a bit shy.

Umawang naman ang labi ko sa gulat sa sinabi n'ya, I cleared my throat, ready to tell him that I'm free tonight pero bago ko pa man magawa ay may mabigat na braso nang umakbay sa balikat ko.

"She's busy," I almost jumped and my heart did too the moment I saw Ejercito beside me. Nakaakbay s'ya at nakatingin ng malamig kay Ethan.

"H-Huh? What are you--" I murmured when he said that pero kaagad n'ya akong pinutol.

"Ililibre kita sa perya diba?" He asked.

My mouth parted, halos magwala ako sa tuwa at nangingiti roon. When he saw my expression, his lips lifted for a smirk.

"Talaga?" I murmured, amazed.

"Hmm, we'll eat wherever you want too." He murmured, his blue eyes glinted with such admiration.

I almost jumped in happiness, nilingon ko ang nagtatakang si Ethan sa aming harapan at maliit na ngumiti.

"Uh, Ethan... Sorry, nakapangako na pala ako kay Jer." Hilaw akong ngumiti.

"Ganun ba?" He smiled shyly and bit his lip.

"Maybe next time?" He asked.

"Aalis ulit kami sa next time mo--" Siniko ko ng malakas ang sikmura ni Ejercito kaya napamura s'ya at napasinghap.

"Lena!" He whinned.

"Sige, sure, next time." Ngiti ko kay Ethan, hindi na hinayaang sumabat pa ang lalaking 'to.

"Great!" He smiled. "See you around, Lena."

I nodded and smiled at him pero mabilis akong pinihit paharap ni Ejercito sa kanya at ngumuso.

"Sa akin ka lang ngingiti ng ganyan," He whinned. Sumimangot ako at hinampas ang braso n'ya.

"You're a jerk," I gritted my teeth.

"Atleast, ililibre kita." He smirked. "Sila, saan ka ililibre? Sa mamahaling restaurant? E, hindi mo naman gusto 'dun. You like amusement parks yet they were bringing you somewhere more pricey." He pointed out.

"Nakakainis, bakit mo kasi ako kilala?" Simangot ko.

"Swerte mo, Harriet." He chuckled. "Ejercito Sandejas 'to, o, ang pinakagwapo sa buong Sta. Monica."

"Wow! Ang yabang!" Sinipa ko s'ya pero tumawa s'ya ng malakas at ginulo ang buhok ko.

"Alam n'yo para kayong magkasintahan," Sabay kaming napalingon kay Cess na nakatitig na sa amin na natatawa pa.

"H-Hindi 'no!" We both exclaimed at nakita kong nangisi si Cess sa amin at nailing.

"Kung hindi ko lang kayo kilala, iisipin kong may relasyon kayo kaso medyo may saltik pala kayong dalawa." Tawa ni Cess kaya umawang ang labi namin. "Bye! Mauuna na ako sa room! Manhid n'yong dalawa."

Pagkaalis ni Cess ay tulala pa rin kaming dalawa bago nagkatinginan.

"Ano raw, bakit manhid?" I asked him. He blinked rapidly and cleared his throat.

"Na...mamanhid lang ang paa ko." Ngumiwi s'ya bigla.

"Oh?" I looked at his feet. "Sa'yo lang naman pala e, bakit ako rin daw, manhid? E, hindi naman namamanhid ang paa ko."

He gulped, nakita kong binasa n'ya ang pang-ibabang labi at nagkibit-balikat.

"Ewan ko, she's being crazy again." He murmured.

Napasulyap naman ako sa uniform n'ya at halos masapo ko ang noo nang makitanh hindi nanaman nakaayos ang necktie n'ya.

"Ano nanaman ba 'yan, Ejercito?" I murmured and pulled him softly on the side, nakita kong nagtaka s'ya pero napanguso nang abutin ko ang necktie n'ya at ayusin.

"Anong ginagawa mo?" I murmured. "Your uniform's messy again. Diba, sabi ko dapat maayos palagi ang uniform mo? Papagalitan ka ng dean, and your necktie?"

"I keep on messing it all the time," He murmured, watching me fix his tie. "Wala kasi si Mommy kanina sa bahay kaya walang tutulong mag-ayos. I don't really know how to properly tie it."

"Tuturuan nalang kita," I murmured.

"Bakit pa? You can always fix it anyway." He said.

"A big no," I shook my head. "Hindi ako palaging nandyan lang sa tabi mo, Jer. Sometimes you have to do things without me, kahit ang necktie mo."

"I woudn't learn how to do it properly, anyway." He murmured.

"You will learn," I said.

"Hindi nga," Iling n'ya. "Sa'yo at kay Mommy lang naman ako nagpapaayos ng tie, she even taught me how to do it too pero walang nangyari."

Hindi na ako umimik, inayos ko ang kwelyo ng damit n'ya at kinuha ang coat n'ya na nasa balikat lang at hindi sinusuot.

"Wear this," I said, lifting my gaze at him until our eyes met. We both froze when we saw each other's eyes.

Kumalabog ang lintik kong puso at para pigilan ang nararamdamang kakaiba ay ngumisi ako at kinalabit ang ilong ni Ejercito.

"Do you like me, Jer?" I teased.

His face blushed profusely. Umawang ang labi n'ya at kumurap sa akin.

"N-No way, Harriet." He breathe and I just laughed and flicked his forehead.

Journal entry #2:

I like you, Leona Harriet. Damn it.

"Lena! Handa na ang gown mo!" Halos mapatalon ako sa boses ni Mamá at dali-dali kong ibinaba ang journal ni Ejercito. I quickly placed it on my bed side table and fixed myself until my mother reached the room.

"Lena, come on!" Masayang sabi ni Mommy pagkakita sa akin. I stood and went near her.

"Do I really have to go, Ma?" I murmured. "Hindi naman kailangang pumunta ako roon--"

"Of course! You needed to go there, hija!" She exclaimed. "You are the beauty queen of your batch! The role model! You should come!"

"But..." I sighed. "Wala akong susuotin."

"Kaya nga may gown ka na! Naku, Leona Harriet!" She exclaimed. "Ayos na 'yun, I know your body measurements so wala nang magiging problema. Sukatin mo nalang, handa na rin ang glam team mo to fix your hair and make-up tonight!"

I sighed, she shook her head at me.

"Bakit ba ayaw na ayaw mong pumunta sa reunion n'yo? Kapag sa ibang kasiyahan naman ang isinasama ka, sasama ka kaagad pero ngayon, ni susuotin ay hindi mo inaasikaso?"

"I just don't think it's necessary to go there," I murmured.

"Is it him again?" Aniya. Natigilan naman ako at sumulyap sa kanya.

"I saw him on newspaper again, he's a great lawyer, I see." She nodded. "But no man still deserves you, Lena. No matter how successful they are."

Nang talikuran n'ya ako ay tumungo lang ako at tahimik na nagtungo sa kwarto ko.

I don't deserve Ejercito too, anyway. After I hurt him, there is no way he'll take me back too.

"Finally! Lena! Napilit ka rin ni Auntie!" Halos hindi magkamayaw si Cecille habang nasa backseat kami ng sasakyan at patungo sa venue kung saan gaganapin ang reunion.

She was so excited tonight pero ako ay wala manlang excitement na madama, I was nervous, alright. Hindi ko alam kung paano kapag nagkita nga kami ni Ejercito.

Maybe I should just hide whenever he's around?

"Oo nga pala, Lena..." I looked at Cess when she talked.

"Yes?" I murmured.

"I don't know if it's a good or bad news for you but..." She looked at me. "I heard hindi na daw tutuloy si Ejercito rito?"

My heart flinched, napalunok ako at napaayos ng upo.

"H-Huh?"

"Narinig ko ang mga kaibigan ni Jer, sa soccer? Kaninang umaga kasi nakita ko sa café, heard them saying na ang alam nila delayed ang flight ni Jer kaya hindi na tutuloy."

"G-Ganun ba?" I felt the bitter taste on my throat, nag-iwas ako ng tingin at tumitig na lamang sa bintana habang nasa byahe.

Too much disappointment, Leona?

Kahit ayaw ko...alam ko sa sarili kong gustong-gusto ko na s'yang makita. Kahit ano pang reaksyon n'ya, kahit may iba na.

Sinong sinasaktan ang sarili? Yes, it's you, Lena.

You keep on hurting yourself by wishing your paper plane will be back again to you.

How pathetic.

Hinaplos ko ang kwintas na kahit kailan ay hindi ko inialis sa akin at bumuntong-hininga.

Maybe fate isn't really for us, my love.

Pagkarating namin sa venue ay nawala ang kaba ko at napalitan ng panghihinayang. Sa pagbukas ng pinto ng driver ay bumungad sa akin si Floyd na nakangiti.

"Lena," He murmured.

"Floyd!" I cheered happily.

He chuckled deeply, inalalayan n'ya ako palabas bago inalalayan rin si Cess palabas. I noticed Cess' boyfriend near us.

I smiled when I saw him went to Cecille's place and help her.

"Kukunin ko na ang girlfriend ko," Ani Joseph.

He isn't in our batch, mas senior s'ya sa amin ng isang tao yet he's here to be Cecille's date.

And me?

Napasulyap ako kay Floyd na nakangiti sa akin.

"Are you ready, my date?" He winked and I chuckled and nodded.

Inalalayan ako ni Floyd papunta sa bulwagan, nauna na si Cess at ang kasintahan papasok at habang nag-aantay kaming makapasok sa loob ay nakita kong nakasulyap sa akin si Floyd.

"What?" I chuckled when I noticed his stare.

"You...look beautiful." He said.

I chuckled, sumulyap sa damit ko pabalik sa kanya.

I was wearing a deep blue trumphet cut gown. I don't know how my mother made this possible but she has good taste in terms of dresses.

There is a thin strap on my shoulders, a v-shape design is on my chest, dahilan para bahagyang sumilip ang cleavage ko. Hapit ang baywang nito sa akin at sumasabay ang pang-ibaba sa korte ng katawan ko.

The glam team made me look like an innocent, sweet angel tonight. They curled my hair in royal waves and clipped a small, silver hair dress.

"Thank you," I smiled. "You looked good too, Floyd, as always."

He chuckled, nang tawagin kaming dalawa ay umayos ako ng tayo at kinipkip ang pouch at naglakad papasok.

I walked elegantly towards the hall, with my head high. I saw how our batchmates shifted their gazes at us when we entered.

I saw some of them look at us with admiration, some just don't care. Nang tuluyang makapasok ay napuno kami ng tawag mula sa mga professor sa loob.

"I'm a fan, hija!" My professor said when she had a chance to come near us.

"Thank you, Ma'am." I smiled sweetly.

"Yes! Really! I remembered when Lena aced the  question and answer! That was a big wow! That moment, we knew you'll win the pageant!"

"I was nervous that time po," I chuckled. "I was shock with the question, hindi po namin ine-expect na itatanong 'yun."

"But you nailed it!" Our male professor said.

"Thank you po,"

"Atsaka kayo na ba nitong si Floyd?" She asked. Nagkatinginan kami ni Floyd at natawa.

"No, Ma'am." Floyd shook his head.

"Hindi? Aba't bagay na bagay kayo! I always think of you two as a couple! You'll look great together! Remember, you two are our queen and king of the night? Senior ball?"

"Oh, yes! I remember!" Sabat ng isa naming professor.

"Sayang nga lang at hindi kayong dalawa, bagay na bagay kayo!" She smiled at us at natawa lang kami ni Floyd at nagkatinginan.

"Ma'am!" I saw one of the professor almost running towards us.

Tumabi kaming bahagya ni Floyd roon at naramdaman kong humawak ito sa baywang ko para umalalay.

"He's here!" He said.

"Oh?" Nakita kong nagulat ang isang propesor. "I thought na-delay ang flight?"

My heart fasten in pace, umawang ang labi ko roon sa narinig.

"That's great then, I never thought that brat could be a successful lawyer someday. Look at him now!"

"Nasaan na?" Nakita kong nagkakagulo na rin ang iba naming batchmate sa usapan.

Kumalabog ang puso ko at nagkatinginan kami ni Cecille na nanlalaki rin ang mata sa may pwesto n'ya.

"I don't know." She mouthed.

Sa paglingon ko sa hall ay halos mawalan ako ng hininga nang makita s'ya.

My heart raced as I look at him, he looks dashing on his two piece black suit and tie, a deep black slacks hugged his perfect legs properly. He's wearing a black leather shoes, ang dating magulong buhok ay clean cut na ngayon.

I saw how he matured a lot, how his prominent features became sharp. Ang matangos na ilong ay mas nadepina, his strong jaw made him look rough and mature.

His thin reddish lips were on a grim line, his thick, lustrous brows compliment his once sweet and loving blue eyes but now only filled with a dull, hollow space. His eyes now screams coldness and how much I tried sensing his emotion, I saw none.

My heart hurt, marahas akong napalunok at napabaling sa babaeng nakakapit sa kanyang braso.

I saw a beautiful, sweet looking woman. She's wearing a white, sweetheart gown, complimenting her features, her hair was falling freely on her back, smiling sweetly in the crowd.

Sumikip ang puso ko nang makita kung paano sila magandang tignan na magkasama. They looked like a great couple.

Nakita ko pa ang pagtayo ni Brittany sa gilid nang makita si Ejercito at humigpit ang hawak ni Floyd sa baywang ko.

I saw how the professors made their way towards them to welcome them.

Napaatras kami ni Floyd, gusto kong magtago at umiyak pero nanatili akong tulala at wala sa sarili.

"Lena!" Napasulyap ako nang lumapit sa akin si Cess na mukhang gulat rin at wala sa sarili.

"That woman..." Tinuro n'ya ng palihim ang babaeng kasama ni Ejercito kaya napatitig rin ako roon at halos mapailing nang mapansin kung sino iyon.

"That's Emily!" She murmured and gasped.

"Who's Emily?" I heard Floyd whispering, enough for the both of us to hear.

"Yung nasa junior na patay na patay kay Ejercito dati!" She murmured. "She always cheers for him way back!"

I blinked rapidly, pakiramdam ko ay nanghina ang tuhod ko pero mabilis akong hinawakan ni Floyd at inalalayan.

"You okay?" He murmured softly.

Hindi ko s'ya nasagot, napasulyap kay Ejercito na ngayon ay malamig ang tingin na itinatapon sa pwesto namin mula sa kanyang lugar.

Our eyes met, I saw how his jaw clenched a bit before looking at the man beside me and looked away.



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